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Web Letter

The corporate oligarchy in this country has been doing everything financially and humanly possible for the past three decades to merge with the Chinese economic behemoth that will come to dominate the twenty-first century.

On one hand, global corporations in this country bitch about government regulation in every area, have spent billions over the past decades to reduce or eradicate it through the purchase of Congressional "friendship" and created a "Reverse Robin Hood" in the cypher George W. Bush, who with the critical aid of Contractor-in-Chief Dick Cheney has spent seven years systematically transferring public fortune into private Swiss bank accounts, including the virtual dismantling of the regulatory infrastructure that began back in the Carter days, hit its stride under Reagan and was turbo-fast-tracked since Bush and Cheney hijacked the reins of power.

The illusion of regulation still exists, as when the former heads of EPA and OSHA were recently grilled by Jerry Nadler's sub-committee in Congress about their "trust us" declarations of air quality safety in downtown Manhattan just after 9/11. The environmental Dragon Lady Christine Whitman can still say with a straight face that she was not under White House influence when she told the world the air was safe to breath, and she was merely acting on the advice of reputable scientists. I'm sure the Chinese government says the same thing when their citizens die from drinking untreated river water filled with black goo. Tell the lie enough times, even in the face of controvening facts, and the lie ends up "true." Welcome to the Twisted Information Age.

Back to the other hand. Some pompous American "intellectuals" who bullshit the world for a living (there are a few sobering, brilliant intellectuals who actually tell the truth as they view it, but they don't work for the American Enterprise Institute) occasionally write essays about the evils of Chinese expansionism, including, as in this one, environmental indifference on several levels.

While the lion's share of the American production economy seems to now reside in Chinese factories--where the labor costs, working conditions and political climate for the ordinary worker make Mexico look like Vegas in comparison--American carmakers have thrown in the towel on this continent (after thirty years of R&D stupidity unrivaled in the annals of capitalism) and are scrambling to build and sell their crummy vehicles to the newly minted Chinese middle class (100 years later, the Ford Model-T saga redux). I'm sure they're losing sleep every night worrying about Chinese environmental standards, as they hope and pray that the Chinese loathing of all things Japanese will trump the demonstrable inferiority of their failed American brand and their crappy designs.

I just watched a brilliant "left-wing" documentary called Who Killed the Electric Car?. If ever the average American Chevrolet-loving putz needed a wake-up call on the bottomless hypocrisy of Big Oil, Big Detroit and Big GOP (with a little help from Big Toyota and Honda) regarding the destruction of the EV-1 vehicle, and its broad implications for the continuation of dependence on oil, foreign and domestic, the propping up of the national internal combustion engine production and maintenance industry, and the ruthless sabotage of a potentially transformative energy-saving and energy-alternative technology, this documentary is it.

President Bartlett (Martin Sheen, but I'd rather think of him as President than the walking bag of morally bankrupt compost that holds the office in real life) narrates the film about the seemingly inexplicable decision on the part of GM, which was forced through some rare government enlightenment to manufacture the electric vehicle, to turn around and use every production and PR tool at its disposal to destroy the EV-1's consumer possibilities, and then blame its demise on "lack of customer interest."

There are millions of Americans who will never give a damn about the energy and environmental crisis in this country, partly because they've been numbed to it for thirty years, since Jimmy Carter made it a major policy priority (and found deafness all around him), and partly because, in their "conspicuous consumption" frame of mind, they simply don't give a s**t. The joke about the average "green" American driving his Hummer to Walgreen's to buy recycled toilet paper is apt.

The point is that despite decades of Acts involving oceans, rivers, lakes, air, whales, forests, wolves, bears, fish, and an endless list of other "natural resources" needing defending, protection, conservation, preservation and monitoring, we're still neck deep in a climate crisis, energy crisis and political crisis, the latter characterized by a polarization and paralysis that would make any Palestinian and Israeli settler feel right at home. In the midst of this decadence and hypocrisy, we're lecturing China about their economic expansion and environmental faux pas?!

I guess this is the same line of blind logic that convinced Paul Wolfowitz somewhere along the path of his development into a neocon monster that invading Iraq would be a mere bag of shells, with those now creepy images of tearful Iraqis tossing daffodils at the feet of conquering American troops, and the "modest" cost of the war paid for by Iraqi oil revenue (what a prophet!).

China will do what China will do, and we're already in their shorts and under their thumb (trade deficit, anyone?). Maybe Al Gore can throw a concert there...that should solve the problem overnight. In the meantime, Hell will be a ski resort before China becomes a leader in the environmental or climate movement. All we can hope for is that in their rush to dominate the world economy, they decide to cut back on cigarettes. Otherwise, whatever green movement may grow there will simply fade to black.

Stewart Braunstein

Port Washington , NY

Jul 8 2007 - 10:11am

Web Letter

Between micromanaged Marxist five-year plans and laissez-faire capitalism combined with "free trade," China has whipsawed between two extremes. They also failed to get their internal economic and social house in order before launching into foreign trade. I believe they have the tariffs in place to protect "Chinese"(?) economic national interests, but they need to create a consumer class that includes all segments of society. This means a rise in wages so ordinary people can afford to buy goods. Raising the standard of living will help with the "unrest" in the country. The foreign interests who came to China for cheap labor will howl, but the China market will become too lucrative for them to leave. The West has traditionally salivated over this market, but the majority of the population were too poor to buy goods. It will be a good market once their standard of living has improved. Because of this market, the Chinese government can afford to regulate business interests to protect ordinary people and the environment.

If foreign business interest do leave, it will be no great loss--native industries and businesses will take their place. The Chinese are natural business people. Watch out, world!

Pervis J. Casey

Riverside, CA

Jul 7 2007 - 1:33pm

Web Letter

Ms Economy professes that China fears "unleashing civil society" to right the horrendous wrongs inflicted by rapacious Chinese development. She has a powerful logic. If we can do it, you can too.

What, you may ask, is this all powerful civil society so capable of reversing the catastrophe of gobal heating and the destruction of most mammalian life? Calling on all her scholarly wisdom and assuring that her bosses at The American Enterprise Institute will be pleased, Ms Economy lays it out for the schmuckery. Civil society, according to Ms Economy, is "the media, the legal system and NGOs."

It's a St. George and the dragon thing. Civil society is our environmental St. George. Rapacious development is the fire-breathing dragon. Why can't these Asians get with the program? If we can do it, you can do it. When will they ever learn? Ain't it awful?

No more unleashing Chaing-Kai-Shek. Now, we have to unleash civil society. Better than radioactive cobalt on the Manchurian border! Hey, we unleashed civil society in Iraq--along with everything else.

For a start, how about a crash program for thousands of law schools, courtrooms, judges and environmental litigation? Billions in attorneys' fees. We could send thousands of our plentiful lawyers and law professors--Alberto the chief legal eagle, Ashcroft, Libby, Feith, Abramoff, Baker, Hilary, Bill, Harriet Meyers and so on. Nixon and John Mitchell died and took their legal skills with them. Add some recent grads from Our Lord's law school. Lawyers? We got lawyers.

Fox, CNN and CBN are ready and willing.

NGOs! We have thousands of NGOs. They are more than ready and more than willing. Many are already on the job. We could send new-age operative David Korten and his wife's Ford Foundation with a message of earth community and the coming of the Great Goddess. If we can do it, you can do it.

I read all this in The Nation--a progressive zine?

Gerald Spezio

Willits, CA

Apr 21 2007 - 10:54am